updated 6/15/2012 11:49:55 AM ET 2012-06-15T15:49:55

Guests: Sam Stein, Ari Berman, Ken Vogel, Chris Kofinis, Professor James Peterson, Professor Frederick Harris


MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to
THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.

Today in Ohio, Mitt Romney took a poke at the president and the
president responded with a thundering counter-punch.

This is THE ED SHOW -- and as Ed would say -- let`s get to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t believe that
giving someone like Mr. Romney another huge tax cut is worth ending the
guarantee of basic security that we`ve always provided the elderly and the
sick and those who are actively working for work.

SCHULTZ (voice-over): The president lays out his vision for America
and dismantles the Romney approach with surgeon-like precision.

OBAMA: There`s nothing new, just what Bill Clinton has called the same
ideas they have tried before except on steroids.

SCHULTZ: Both speeches from the candidates today were epic. Sam
Stein and Jonathan Alter will have all the fallout.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Talk is cheap, action speaks
very loud. The words are cheap. Talk is cheap.

SCHULTZ: Talk may be cheap but political ads cost money. You won`t
believe the new numbers from Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.

And Columbia professor Frederick Harris says the country is still said
to be waiting for our first black president. We`ll have the debate
tonight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DYSON: Today in Cleveland, Ohio, the president took up the fight for
a second term in a way he has never done before. He said that the election
was most definitely going to be about the economy and he challenged anyone
who wanted to return to the failed policies of the past to vote for
candidate Mitt Romney.

The president portrayed the election as a chance to break a stalemate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What is holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between
two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take.
Your vote will finally determine the path that we take as a nation. Not
just tomorrow but for years to come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: He didn`t dispute the economy is still in need of deep help.
But he advanced the argument further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The debate in this election is not about whether we need to
grow faster or whether we need to create more jobs, or whether we need to
pay down our debt. The debate in the election is how we grow faster, and
how we create more jobs and how we pay down our debt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: The Romney campaign anticipated the launch of the president`s
new speech, so the Romney campaign bus circled and honked at the location
of the president`s speech according to CBS News -- you know, the kind of
childish act you would except from a high school bully.

And in Cincinnati, Ohio, he delivered his own speech just prior to the
president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: He has been president for three and a half years. And talk
is cheap, action speaks very loud. And if you want to see the results of
his economic policies, look around Ohio, look around the country and you`ll
see a lot of people are hurting, a lot of people have had tough times, and
the policies the president put in place did not make America create more
jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Of course, Governor Romney`s claim about jobs is demonstrably
false. There`s been 27 consecutive months of private sector job growth.
And while Romney may have anticipated President Obama`s speech, the
president anticipated Romney`s speech as well.

President Obama said the Republican plan was simple, more tax cuts for
the richest Americans and a lot less regulations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Just what Bill Clinton has called the same ideas they`ve tried
before, except on steroids.

If you agree with the approach I just described, if you want to give
the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr.
Romney. You should vote for his allies in Congress. You should take them
at their word and they will take America down this path.

And Mr. Romney is qualified to deliver on that plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Governor Romney tried to emphasize his love of job creators.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I want to make once again -- America once again, the most
attractive place in the world for job creators, and it`s not just because I
love job creators, it`s because I love jobs. I want more good jobs for the
American people and I want such good competition for good workers that
salaries and wages go up so people make more money. I want to help the
middle class of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: President Obama said top-down economics had failed and said
the middle class was the true engine of economic growth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I`ve got a different vision for America. I believe that you
can`t bring down the debt without a strong and growing economy. And I
believe you can`t have a strong and growing economy without a strong and
growing middle class.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: This has to be our North Star.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Romney trotted out a favorite of the Republicans, a vow to
build the Keystone Pipeline.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I can guarantee you, if I`m president, on day one, we`re
going to get the approval for the pipeline from Canada. And if I have to
build it myself to get it here, I`ll get that oil to America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Oh my goodness.

Governor Romney also trotted out a long list of distortions. He said
the stimulus didn`t work. That Obama regulations had hurt both the coal
industry and the natural gas industry. And that Obamacare was hurting job
growth.

But the president expected those distortions and answered them all.
He also offered a prediction about what his opponents will try to do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The other side will spend over a billion dollars on ads that
will tell you the economy is bad and that it`s all my fault, that I can`t
fix it because I think government is always the answer or because I did not
make a lot of money in the private sector and don`t understand it, or
because I`m in over my head or because I think that everything and
everybody is doing just fine. That is what the scary voice in the ads will
say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: That`s what the scary voices are saying. If the election is
truly a stark choice between two competing visions of how to take America
forward, the president still appears to have the American public on his
side. Three and a half years into the Obama presidency, 68 percent of
Americans say former President Bush deserves a great deal or a moderate
amount of blame for the economy. Fifty-two percent say that President
Obama deserves that discredit.

Get your cell phones out, I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: whose vision is better for America? Text A for President Obama,
text B for Romney, to 622639. Or go to our blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. I`ll
bring you the resulting later in the show.

Joining me now is Sam Stein, political reporter for "The Huffington
Post."

Brother Stein, welcome to the show.

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thank you so much.

DYSON: Now, this was billed as the president`s new framing speech.
Did he move into new territory today and advance the argument in favor of
his re-election?

STEIN: Substantively, I don`t think he did. Obviously, he has a list
of things he wants to do to create jobs. He`s stuck by that list. It`s
been roughly the same things since September.

But the goal of the speech really wasn`t to break new ground on the
substantive level. It was to try to get him and Mr. Romney or Governor
Romney on the same ground politically. And by that, I mean, there`s an
argument about what the country needs to do going forward.

Romney wants to bring it back to the past, he wants to focus on the
past 2 1/2 years, three years of the presidency. The Obama campaign
doesn`t want to have that conversation, and they want to talk about what
the choice is for voters in terms of platforms he`s going forward.

And I think that was the design of the speech. It was to address the
progress made to this point and then to ask the question, well, what do we
do now? And I think in that respect, the speech was relatively successful.

DYSON: Well, let`s pick up on your word choice.

STEIN: Sure.

DYSON: President Obama emphasized, this is a choice, not a referendum
and he asked for a mandate to break the stalemate. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Not by telling everyone to fend for themselves but by coming
together as one American family, all of us pitching in, all of us pulling
our own weight, this November, you can provide a mandate for the change we
need right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Now, some were upset with that, but that seems to me a
successful rhetoric and political device, at least potentially. What do
you think?

STEIN: Yes. I mean, in concept it actually is. But in practice, you
know, I have to be skeptical. Obviously, at one point in time in his
presidency, Obama did have 60 senators in the Senate, 60 Democratic
senators, and the majority in the House of the Representative. If ever
there was a mandate, that was the mandate.

And for it, we got -- the country got a lot accomplishments, whether
you want to judge them as good or bad, it`s up to you.

The notion that if he wins reelection, suddenly Republicans opposition
will fall by the wayside is sort of naive I think because Republicans have
been against this president since the night of his inauguration. So, the
mandate actually isn`t going to be there. Whether it changes Obama`s
governing style however is a whole another question.

DYSON: So, how do you rate Governor Romney`s approach? Does a weak
economy give him a built-in advantage?

STEIN: Yes. I think there`s only one premise on which Governor
Romney is running for office and that is it hasn`t worked. And to the
extent the economy suffers, I think he benefits politically. I`m not
saying he is rooting for the economy to suffer, but it does help him
electorally.

If the economy were to start doing better in the next couple of
months, I think you would see reflection of that, improving poll numbers
for Obama. But that`s the nature of the election. It`s three years out of
a recession, do you trust the path we are on and do you trust the president
who`s overseeing it?

And the president has a tough path to ride when it`s a bad economy,
and Romney has an easier path to ride. What happens next is anyone`s
guess.

DYSON: Well, let`s turn to a person who recently withstood a
challenge to his own electoral privilege. Even Governor Scott Walker of
Wisconsin says Romney needs to sharpen his message.

STEIN: Yes.

DYSON: Quote, "I think he`s got to have a simple message of not only
why we need to replace the current occupant in the White House but also why
we would be better."

Has Romney started to explain why more tax breaks and less regulations
is a real economic plan?

STEIN: Is that a rhetorical question? No, he hasn`t, and that`s the
big problem, is that there are so many gaps in the platform that people are
dying to fill in.

And listen, I talked to some people in the Obama world all the time.
And part of the process here is to eliminate the question about resumes.
They don`t want to talk about resumes. They want to get on to the
specifics of the policy.

So, you know, going after Bain was perhaps a strategic misstep, they
want to say, OK, this is Bain, this is what he did in the past, this is
what he did as governor. Now, what he`s going to do going forward? And
that`s when they feel like they`re on a better field, when they can say,
here`s my prescription for the country`s problems. Here`s Governor
Romney`s prescription for the country`s problems. Which ones do you
prefer? That`s a battle I think they win. They don`t think they can win
this battle if it`s strictly referendum or if it`s a contest of resumes.

DYSON: Sam Stein, thank you, so much.

STEIN: All right. Thank you. Take care.

DYSON: Remember to answer tonight`s question at the bottom of the
screen. And share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow. We want to know what
you think.

The Romney campaign is holding up Ohio Governor John Kasich as a
poster boy for Republican economic success. Who really gets the credit for
the declining Ohio employment rate? I`ll tell you next. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DYSON: Coming up, Republicans try to convince voters in swing states
that President Obama`s plans aren`t working. But places like Ohio,
Michigan, Virginia are benefiting the most from his economic policies.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio says Governor Scott`s voter purge isn`t
targeting Latinos in the state. But they are disproportionately affected.
We`ll bring you the details.

And the Obama campaign makes an appeal to African American voters to
stand by him, while one writer arguing that we are still waiting for our
first black president.

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #EdShow. We`ll be right
back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DYSON: The key to a Mitt Romney victory is convincing Americans they
are worse off today than they were four years ago. Republicans hope this
message resonates most strongly in the crucial swing states that will give
one of the candidates the necessary 270 electoral votes.

The only problem for Republicans is the most crucial swing states are
actually experiencing better economic fortunes than the rest of the
country. Unemployment in Ohio is nearly point below the national average
at 7.4 percent. Michigan was left for dead four years ago and unemployment
has dropped from a staggering high of 14.1 percent to 8.3 percent.

And Virginia has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country
at 5.6 percent. The Romney campaigns answer to this conundrum is that all
the states in question have Republican governors.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSS SCHRIEFER, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Anything that has happened
in Ohio that certainly Governor Kasich has been helpful to encouraging
business in Ohio, and it just shows whether it`s Ohio or New Jersey, or
Indiana, when you have Republican governors who encourage business, things
are better.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

DYSON: So, if Republican policies are encouraging economic growth in
the states, what`s wrong with the others? Nevada, New Jersey, and Florida,
all states with hard-charging Republican governors are all above the
unemployment rate.

If tax cuts and deregulation are the right economic answers, why
aren`t these states doing better? Maybe it`s because a state like Virginia
benefits from government jobs and huge amounts of military spending. And
states like Michigan and Ohio benefit from a industry that was revitalized
by the American government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Auto bailouts particularly in the
northeastern part of your state created jobs, not just in that sector but
in sectors that rely upon in it. Is there not credit for the president
there?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: David, David, look, the fact is we are
thrilled with the auto jobs --

GREGORY: Romney would not have bailed them out. Romney would not
have bailed them out.

KASICH: I`m not here to debate.

GREGORY: No, but that`s a fact, is it not, Governor? You said that
the things that turned Ohio around, and one of them was the auto bailout.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: And, David Gregory, you`re right again. If governors like
John Kasich actually gave credit where credit was due, it would under mine
the entire case for a Romney presidency.

Let`s turn to Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst and "Bloomberg
View" columnist who helps us get it all right.

Does Mitt Romney have a problem going into states like Ohio and
Michigan, and arguing that the economy is bad because -- you know, you are
pitching against the Republican governors that are there and overlooking
their work if you are trying to make a larger argument about Obama`s
failure?

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a big problem for
Romney. Now, he`s had a lot of good news lately. Obama did not have the
greatest month in -- or even the last six weeks.

DYSON: Right.

ALTER: But because the auto bail outs were successful, and at first
they were very unpopular. But they produced results. And when they did,
not just in Michigan but in northern Ohio, it changed the calculus there.
It actually not only affected unemployment rate, but it affected the
psychology of the state.

So, Ohio is still going to be very close. It often goes Republican,
Obama doesn`t have to have it to win the election. But if he manages to
win there, he is well on his way to the 270 electoral votes.

DYSON: Well, as you know, the Romney campaign said that things are
better in states with Republican governors. We`re talking about New
Jersey, Florida, Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina, on and on. So, when he
makes that argument, when he comes up to saying that look, this is what`s
going to happen as a result of the Republican genius, you`ve already
indicated that it`s going to be very difficult.

But how does he use it to his advantage? How does he say, I can give
a plus to the Republican governors, but I can also take a whack at Obama?

You got to figure out strategically how that can occur.

ALTER: Well, I don`t think he is actually all that worried about the
nuances of these appeals. His basic attitude, his basic message is fire
the guy. You know? Are you better off than you were four years ago? If
not, fire Obama.

And his -- in some ways, his task is easier than the presidents. He
has to make a more complicated appeal and frame the issue in ways that take
a little more skill. And that`s what he started to try to do in the speech
today, I don`t think he did it in a resonant enough way.

But the task for Romney is easier, because a lot of people are still
hurting.

DYSON: Right.

ALTER: And that`s what makes the challenge for the president so
significant, is the recovery has been anemic, even if those states.

DYSON: Well, let`s pick up on that. You talk about that, you were
not a fan of President Obama`s speech either, because you thought that he
droned on a bit, that he lost his central thread, that he weaved throughout
the speech that could have been a rhetorical assets to him.

Give us a bit of insight about that.

ALTER: I mean, I thought substantively, in terms of teeing up the
choice that the country faces, he was absolutely right. And it`s important
to lay down a marker that this is what would happen to America if Mitt
Romney were elected.

But rhetorically, it`s a speech. You do want to analyst the
impression that it conveys.

DYSON: Right.

ALTER: It just didn`t have enough lines that linger in the mind. You
know, there are very few people who are watching during day, they are busy
at work, if they are unemployed trying to find a job. And so, the way they
absorb information in a campaign is through sound bites. And this
president, unfortunately, is allergic to sound bites.

And today is a good example of how that hurt him.

So everybody tonight should have the same message coming out of that
speech, and they don`t. They are all over the place. Different news
accounts pick up on different ideas. They should all be on the same thing
if his message discipline was what it needed to be.

DYSON: Well, let`s take a listen to one of those sound bites, right?
Let`s take a listen to a portion of the speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: So, recovering from crisis of 2008 has always been the first
and most urgent order of business but it`s not enough. Our economy won`t
be truly healthy until we reverse that much longer and profound erosion of
middle class jobs and middle class incomes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: So, tell us what bothered you about that messaging. And then,
secondly, given your kind of deconstruction of the speech as a rhetorical
device, do you think -- most people will say, well, you know, I`m not
getting in that, because what survives at the end of the day may not be a
unified set of sound bites but they are enough of them to survive to get
his message across? Do you think despite himself, the message comes
across?

ALTER: Yes, in a general way. But that was a good example. I mean,
can you remember what he just said, was there a line that lingers even five
seconds later? It was a professorial sound bite.

Now, he did have one sound bit that was effective. It was when he
basically said that this election is about how to create jobs. He used
that word, "how" three or four times. And that was effective. This is a
"how" election. Everybody wants more jobs.

There`s a huge gap between the way Romney would get them, through tax
cuts and deregulation, which we tried before. And as the president
indicated, utterly failed and Obama`s version in his jobs bill which has
more potential to help the middle class.

But that message needs to be framed in a way that resonates and that
what was lacking.

DYSON: The message is great. Methodology has to be rejiggered.

ALTER: Exactly.

DYSON: All right. Jonathan Alter, thank you so very much.

Coming up, Governor Rick Scott explains why poll workers thought he
was dead, why he got the vote anyway. He thinks it`s a funny story. We`ll
show you why minorities in the state are not laughing.

And the President Obama has a new radio ad out targeting African-
American viewers. What does Glenn Beck think about that? We`ll tell you.

Stay tuned. You`re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DYSON: Welcome back.

The guy in charge of the most controversial voter purge in U.S.
history said he feels your pain, but he`s going ahead with the purge
anyway. Florida Governor Rick Scott is leading the effort to get as many
as 180,000 potentially ineligible voters off the roles.

Florida is suing the Obama administration to get access to a federal
database. The Justice Department and civil rights groups are suing back,
trying to halt the purge.

But Rick Scott revealed on the radio today that he knows what is it is
like to get knocked off the voter roles. Back in 2006, they thought he was
dead.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: A few years ago, when I went to vote, I
had to vote provisionally, because they said I passed away. I said I`m
still alive and I hope my vote got counted.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

DYSON: Collier County confirms Scott got to cast a provisional ballot
and it counted, which is nice for him.

But what about him? Dale Internicola got a notice he needed to
provide his citizenship to the Broward County. He was a U.S.-born World
War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. And he`s just one of
thousands asked to prove they have a right to vote.

There are 2700 names on the purge list, 500 have turned out to be
actual citizens, more than 140 might be non-citizens. Bottom line, the
state thinks that 50 people illegally cast a ballot, 50, out of state of 90
million people.

And today the purge gained another champion, Senator Marco Rubio. He
is the highest ranking Latino official in Florida and a potential V.P.
candidate for Romney. Rubio supports the purge despite that evidence
Latinos are getting targeted. Hispanics make up 14 percent of the
electorate, 61 percent are targets of the purge.

But Senator Rubio actually said today, "I wouldn`t characterize it as
an effort to purge Latinos from the voting roles." Romney says the
controversy is just a, quote, "debate about tactics and I`m not familiar
with all the intricacies of how the program is being implemented. And if
there`s a better way, we should consider."

So, the senator supports the purge, he`s just not sure how it works in
his own state.

I`m joined by Ari Berman, contributing writer for "The Nation" and
"Rolling Stone" magazine, and author of "Hurting Donkeys: The Fight to
Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics."

So, Ari, is the Florida voting purge simply about endorsing or
enforcing the law or is this, you know, is there something else to it,
something beneath the surface that we are not seeing?

ARI BERMAN, THE NATION: No, GOP election officials in Florida have
set this is partisan posturing by the Rick Scott administration. This is
an effort to take people of color off of the voting roles who would support
President Obama in 2012, and it`s an effort to suppress the Democratic vote
in Florida, which Rick Scott has been doing from day one of his
administration when he has changed the election laws to benefit the GOP.

So, this is obviously part of a broader national strategy by
Republicans to make it harder for Obama voters and Democratic voters to
vote in this election.

DYSON: You`re right. He started right away. I mean, there have been
massive registration crackdowns, early voting restrictions. He seems to be
obsessed with black men with criminal records, or others with voter ID
laws.

What gives here? Why is he so obsessed with it?

BERMAN: Well, the first thing that Rick Scott did is he
disenfranchised ex-felons who had served their time from being able to
vote. That instantly disenfranchised 100,000 people, overwhelmingly again
people of color. Then he made it harder for people to register to vote,
for groups of League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote to register the
voters and he cut short early voting periods. As we`ve discussed on this
show before, these are things that young voters and minority voters use
more than white voters do. They are more likely to register through voter
registration drives. They`re more likely to vote early, including on the
Sunday before the election, when black churches mobilize their
constituents.

So it`s no accident what Florida is doing. They looked at the tactic
that the Obama campaign used so successfully in 2008, and they tried to
block them in 2012.

DYSON: Well, it seems to be catching on. Michigan Governor Rick
Snyder is getting ready to sign voter reform legislation that is going to
result in voter I.D. laws. And as a result of that, protests have been
touched off at the state house. Some Democrats say it`s an attempt at
voter suppression. They`ll have to show their I.D.s. What do you think
here? The secretary of state says that they -- that this reform will make
it easier. What do you think? Is it the same old kind of thing?

BERMAN: Yes, it`s the same trend we have seen nationally, which is
states that flipped from blue to red in 2010, Republicans then turned
around and made it harder for those Obama voters and those Democrats to be
able to vote. Michigan was one of the last hold outs. Now they are
joining the Republican band wagon on voter suppression. They are doing
three things. They`re making -- number one, you need a photo I.D. now to
register to vote. We know 662,000 people in Michigan don`t have those
I.D., overwhelmingly people of color.

They are also requiring, in a copycat law of Florida, making it harder
for the League of Women Voters and those groups to register people to vote,
very onerous new requirements. And then they are saying you have to check
a box saying you are a U.S. citizen. And if you forget to do that or you
don`t dot hat, then your ballot might not count. All of these make it
harder for people to vote, disproportionately again young people and people
of color.

DYSON: It`s so thinly veiled. You sit there and go, you`re aghast.
Can they really get away with it? Do you think Snyder`s practices are
going to really ultimately be successful?

BERMAN: Well they have a large majority there. There`s some question
whether they have the two thirds majority they need there. But Snyder has
been a very controversial governor. He has circumvented regular order in
terms of how he is governing to push other controversial pieces of
legislation through. They are trying to do the same thing here.

I think it is going to be challenged. I think it`s going to be
challenged in the courts, number one. And it`s going to also be challenged
in the court of public opinion. So there could be some push back. There`s
not a lot of time between now and election day. So the push back is going
to have to start right now or else these things are going into effect very
quickly.

DYSON: All right, my friend. Ari Berman, thank you so much for
joining us.

BERMAN: Thank you for having me.

DYSON: There`s a lot more coming up in the next half hour on THE ED
SHOW. Stay tuned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHELDON ADELSON, BILLIONAIRE: I`m a decision maker. You have to come
up and make decisions. You have to have the courage of your own
convictions and you have to be able to take some licks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Sheldon Adelson is a Citizen United against Barack Obama. A
new report says he may be willing to spend nine figures to defeat the
president. That report is next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to show the president we have his back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: The Obama campaign is reaching out to the black community with
a new ad, and the right wing is going crazy over it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not sure who is paying the backup singers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never heard anything like that, Bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: And Colombia University Professor Frederick Harris says
America is still waiting for our first black president. Dr. James Peterson
says he`s already here. That debate is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The other side will
spend over a billion dollars on ads that tell you the economy is bad, that
it`s all my fault, that I can`t fix it because I think government is always
the answer. That is what the scary voice in the ads will say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Love that scary voice. Welcome back. That was President
Obama speaking about the fallout from the Citizens United ruling. Since
the ruling, unprecedented amounts of money have been flowing from
Republican mega-donors to GOP super PACs. In recent days, billionaire
casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife donated a staggering 10 million
dollars to the pro Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future. So far, they have
given a total of 35 million dollars to Republican super PACs during the
2012 campaign season.

Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam are worth a cool 25 billion
dollars. And that 35 million they have spent so far is just the tip of the
iceberg. According to "Forbes Magazine," a source within Adelson`s
operation reveals he will do whatever it takes to defeat President Obama,
and that further donations will be limitless.

Earlier this year, Adelson himself said that his spending could reach
100 million dollars this election season. The reason he has waged a
financial assault on the president is because he believes Obama is weak on
the economy. Adelson said "what scares me is the continuation of the
socialist style economy we have been experiencing for almost four years."

It turns out the socialist style economy has been very, very good for
Adelson. "Forbes" reports he has made more than 21 billion dollars under
the Obama administration. That is more than any other American, including
Facebook pioneer Mark Zuckerberg.

For more on this, let`s bring in Ken Vogel, chief investigative
reporter for "Politico," and Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis. Ken, I
tell you what, man, if I had mad 21 billion dollars under Obama, I would be
singing his praises right about now. So what impact will Adelson`s money
have? Is it just the tip of the iceberg, literally?

KEN VOGEL, "POLITICO": It`s the tip of the iceberg. And we won`t
know the full extent of his giving, because he has suggested recently in a
interview with a Las Vegas reporter that he would likely shift the bulk of
his giving to these undisclosed groups, these groups that are registered
under 501 C-4 of tax code, that allow unlimited donations, that do not have
to be disclosed, that can be used in much the same way as disclosed
donations to super PACs.

And that really --- the undisclosed donations to 501 C-4 groups being
used on attack ads is really a direct impact of Citizens United. The super
PACs are more related and caused by another lower court decision that
followed Citizen`s United, called Speech Now versus the Federal Election
Commission. Either way, Sheldon Adelson and his ilk are taking full
advantage of these federal court decisions.

DYSON: Well, the barrage of Republican money has left President Obama
struggling to keep up. Pro-Romney super PAC Restore our Future has raised
over 56 million this year. But pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action
has raised only 10 million. Few Democrats are willing to write huge checks
to super PACs, because many are ideologically opposed to them in the first
place.

Chris, what do Democrats have to do here? Do they have to just bite
the bullet and say, look, dig into the war chest? Until things change, we
have to adjust to where they are?

CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I`m not sure there`s any way
around it. When it comes to the super PAC money race, I think it`s just
being brutally honest, Democrats are going to lose. Republicans have this
incredible advantage. They have billionaires in their pockets, if you
will, who are ready to spend 100 million dollars. I do not see anyone on
the liberal or progressive side with those kind of resources who is willing
to do the same.

Until that happens, we are going to lose that. I think what you just
basically have got to do is you have to be even more aggressive in terms of
your message and your operation in these key battlegrounds. But it`s
really tough, I think, to be honest about what the impact of these super
PACs are or is going to be because we have never had to deal with this
before.

DYSON: Who would have thought it, that Obama, who raised a record
amount of money last time around, now is the underdog in terms of the
sweepstakes for raising cash?

VOGEL: That`s right. And if I could add, Michael, it`s not just that
these Democrats are ideologically opposed to Citizens United and these
lower court decisions and the impact, the, you know, deluge of outside
spending that is going on as a result of that. It`s also that the last
time Democrats really invested heavily in this type of outside spending was
in 2004, when they spent upwards of 200 million dollars in an effort to
defeat President Bush. Obviously, that was unsuccessful, left a bad taste
in many of their mouths.

Additionally, some of these folks who are the big donors who gave to
those efforts in 2004 are just not too excited about President Obama.
That`s both because in some cases they don`t think he has been sufficiently
aggressive on their issues. And it`s also because it`s just easier to
motivate donors generally when you have an incumbent who you are opposed
to, as opposed to an incumbent who you want re-elected.

DYSON: Speaking about those -- that incumbent that you are opposed
to, Chris, what about the scary voices part of Obama`s speech. That was
kind of sinister today, right, talking about these are the voices you`re
going to hear. What do you think about the effectiveness of deploying that
as a rhetorical device to gin up some interest on his side?

KOFINIS: Well, listen, I think part of the problem for Democrats on
the fundraising side is the small dollar donors that you referenced, that
really fueled then Senator Obama`s rise and his candidacy have -- they are
still there, but they are not the powerhouse that I think some of us
expected them to be. I think what those small dollar donors have got to
realize what I think the choice is here.

You`re going to see a barrage not only in just first tier battleground
states. That I`m actually ironically less concerned about. I`m more
concerned about second tier battleground states, places like Michigan and
Wisconsin that are not getting a lot of attention just yet, but where the
super PACs are able to go in and spend 10, 15 million dollars, whatever the
money may be, and there`s nobody competing with them.

That is where the super PACs can have significant impact. And that is
where I think Democrat donors and Democratic super PACs have to step up
their game.

DYSON: All right, Ken Vogel and Chris Kofinis, thank you so very
much.

VOGEL: Thank you.

KOFINIS: Thank you.

DYSON: Glenn Beck has plenty to say about President Obama`s first
radio ad targeting the African-American community. Hear Beck`s latest
conspiracy theory next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DYSON: With the presidential campaign heating up, the Obama team has
released its first national ad aimed at African-Americans. Here is part of
it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to show the president we have his back.

OBAMA: We can`t afford to spend the next four years going backwards.
I`m running to make sure that by the end of the decade, more of our
citizens hold a college degree than any other nation on Earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Enthusiasm remains high for the president in the black
community. The president has a sky high job approval rating among African-
Americans. The president easily beats Mitt Romney in a head to head match
up. But not everyone believes the African American community should be
singing the president`s praises?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Isn`t the president supposed to
have our back? Isn`t he the guy who is supposed to be the guy who ensures
that he is watching our liberty and our life, so nobody comes and kills our
family or kills us, and nobody can scoop us up off the streets in the
middle of the night, which he`s not really doing either of those things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Oh boy, that`s one of those Obama scary voices, huh? Glenn
Beck goes on to warn Bill O`Reilly about the dangerous message the
president is sending to the African-American community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: The other problem with this, Bill, is that listen to the things
he is promising. He`s not -- a real leader doesn`t snare you in and suck
you in and say, depend on me, depend on me. A real leader says you are
better than this. You can strive.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: That is the difference between you
and me and Barack Obama. Barack Obama is a big government guy and he`s --

BECK: Come on, say the M word.

O`REILLY: I`m going continue to give you more stuff.

BECK: Say it, he is a Marxist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: Boy, Bill O`Reilly`s been to the White House to get some of
that free government pizza.

Coming up, one black scholar says we are still waiting for our first
African-American president. I will talk to Professor Frederick Harris and
Professor James Peterson next.

Tonight in our survey, I asked you whose economic vision is better for
America? Ninety seven percent say President Obama; three percent say Mitt
Romney.

Stay tuned. You are watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: If we have more black men in prison than in our colleges and
universities, than it`s time to take the bullet out. If we keep sending
our kids to crumbling school buildings and keep fighting this war in Iraq,
a war that should have never been authorized and should have never been
waged, it`s time to take that bullet out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DYSON: That was then presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2007,
referencing a story in which a young woman and her baby survived being
shot. The baby was marked with a scar, a reminder of the trauma when the
bullet was taken out. Now according to one African-American scholar, the
strong black leader you just heard has disappeared. Frederick Harris
argues the first black president has all but abandoned the black community.

Harris writes in the "Washington Post," quote, "Obama`s assent to the
White House has signaled the decline of a politics aimed at challenging
racial inequality head on. And black Americans are complicit in this
decline. Fearing that publicly raising racial issues will undermine the
president in the eyes of white voters, African-Americans appear to have
struck an implicit pact with Obama. Even as we watch him go out of his way
to lift up other marginalized groups, such as gay Americans, and call for
policies that help everyone, we have accepted his silence on issues of
particular interest to us. In exchange, we get to feel symbolic pride in
having a black president and family in the White House. For black America,
it hasn`t been a good deal."

Let`s turn to Frederick Harris, political science professor at
Colombia University and author of those words, and of the book, "the Price
of the Ticket, Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics,"
and James Peterson, director of Africana studies and associate professor of
English at Lehigh University.

Professor Harris, knowing what Obama is up against, the president is
up against, in terms of the racial climate, the racial real political that
makes it very curious for him to even raise a racial issue, what in that
climate do you think it was necessary or even possible for him to do to
more directly address the issues of African-American people?

PROFESSOR FREDERICK HARRIS, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Yes, Michael, I`m
fully aware that the president is in a double bind. This is a very nasty
environment that the president has been working in. But I think there`s
something that we have to, particularly those who are committed to an
agenda around racial inequality, is that there are always going to be
people out there. There are always periods in history where the right
wing, where conservative forces have opposed racial reform.

So I think we need to recognize that there are permanent interests
within black communities, and there are issues that need to be raised no
matter who is in the White House.

DYSON: Professor Peterson, do you agree with this? Do you think that
President Obama`s racial situation on the ground, notwithstanding that he
still has to address specifically and creatively the interest of and
concerns of the African-American people? Or do you think Professor Harris
is a bit off base here?

PROFESSOR JAMES PETERSON, LEHIGH UNIVERSITY: Well, I think it`s a
very complicated situation that we are dealing with here. And I think
there`s a big difference between Professor Harris` "Washington Post" piece
and the actual book that the piece comes from. I mean, clearly this
president is confronted with a very serious set of complex issues.

But can we just rehearse a few of the things that he has done for
black folk? He has got this -- he has got a nice list of things here,
including three billion dollars for the Minority Business Development
Agency, 2.5 billion to HBCUs. The Affordable Health Care Act covers four
million more African-Americans. He has the White House Commission on Urban
Affairs.

I mean, he has done some things that I think are important and
powerful for the African-American community. And then in the context of
the things of which you and Professor Harris are talking about, where every
single racial move that this president makes becomes a political football
for his political opponents, I think it puts into bold relief the ways in
which those things that he has done for the black community are actually
important and significant at this particular time.

DYSON: What do you say to that? Because if you say, on the one hand,
you have all these programs that Professor Peterson has just spoken about,
that have targeted -- or have benefited African-American people without
targeting them specifically, so there`s a benefit, but on the other hand,
that you can`t discount the fact that if he even mentions racial -- Trayvon
Martin or if he mentions Skip Gates and the cop who mishandled him, that
there`s a racial conflagration -- how do we balance that? How do we talk
about our issues, but at the same time understand what the fix is here?

HARRIS: Well, I think it`s very tricky. And then there are policy
analysts who are really coming up with this eye of targeted universalism.
This is the idea that you target particularly social policies
geographically in communities that are impacted most by unemployment,
impacted most by high levels of poverty. So I think there needs to be some
rethinking, some innovation when we think in terms of what works.

I think by this targeted universalism, it recognizes the racial
dynamics of those communities geographically, in the sense of the legacies
of racial segregation.

DYSON: Right, but Professor Peterson, and then of course to Professor
Harris, but see in your article -- let`s play a little bully pulpit here
and get more into it. That was not the tone of your article. Your article
was look, this guy -- we are waiting for the first black president. He
ain`t it. He is leaving us behind. You are talking about targeted
universalism now, but you were saying basically that he should be more
explicit in that. And the argument of those who defend him is that
Professor Harris, you`re being a bit naive. If he goes out there talking
about black, black, he can`t get the black, black agenda done.

Is there any room here tot talk about both and -- targeted
universalism and -- as ell as that, Professor Peterson and then --

PETERSON: Again, I think that`s why we have to separate the Post
piece from his actual book, which I`ve been working my way through over the
last couple of days. The title of the Post piece is what I think is most
offensive, but I think Professor Harris can sort of justify his claims
there. I don`t think Professor Harris is saying that President Obama is
not black. I think what he is saying is that he wants to call into
question the extent to which here`s this dichotomy here in black political
strategy between coalition politics versus black community center politics.

I think that`s a fair way of framing it. But I think it`s also
somewhat outdated, right? Because we do have to move not just towards a
more targeted universalism, but we actually have to do a little bit of
both, which is we need some coalitions. For instance, we need coalitions
with the Latino community on a number of issues, like voter purging,
immigration, education. And that kind of coalition is going to be very,
very useful and important for African Americans. So we need a more complex
set of ways of thinking and talking about these things.

My problem is that we are very reluctant I think to give this
president his due for the things that he has done. That is why I wanted to
run down that list, because it`s not as if he has accomplished nothing for
the black community. He`s done a number of different things. But we are
in a political environment -- and the data is pointing this out. We`re in
a political environment where we`re much more racially charged than we
think we are.

DYSON: Let me ask Professor Harris then, respond, are you giving him
short thrift? Are you giving him his due? Or do you think he does not
deserve it?

HARRIS: I think some of the things that were mentioned have been
mentioned throughout the past two weeks about, you know, some policy
accomplishments. I think they are important. I don`t think they are
necessarily major accomplishments. Particularly --

DYSON: So you think he has failed us? You think he has failed
African-American --

HARRIS: No, I think I`ll give him a C plus or B minus. But I really
want people to go back and look specifically at the major criminal justice
reforms that the president proposed at this speech at Howard University in
2007. This was a really major, bold proposals he put on the table. A
federal level racial profiling law, loan forgiveness for -- for lawyers who
decide to become public defenders. I don`t think that the president was --
was --

(CROSS TALK)

DYSON: We are going to have to -- we are out of time right now. We
have to bring Peterson and Harris back on -- sounds like a law firm -- and
we`ll get you guys together and talk about this very interesting point.

And a programming note, tomorrow night, one of the greatest rappers of
all time, 50 Cent, will be my special guest. He is coming here to talk
about charity, politics, Obama, pop culture, Floyd Mayweather, Tupac`s
birthday. We`re going to hit it all, like it`s your birthday. Be sure to
tune in.

That is THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz. Ezra
Klein fills in for Rachel Maddow tonight. Good evening, Ezra..

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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